The enduring mystery of the Navigable Waters Protection Act

Did the pipeline industry inspire the changes?

The Canadian Press finds that the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association was interested in changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

The Harper government’s attempts to explain the changes to the act have been problematic from the start. First was the attempt, in the context of last year’s second omnibus budget bill, to claim that the changes had been mentioned in the budget. Then there was the case of the disappearing FAQ. And then there was the claim that the act had nothing to do with the environment.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities applauded the changes last October, but it was the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities that apparently claimed credit in November.

But members of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) are claiming a victory with the change to navigable water legislation. “We’re ecstatic about that,” president David Marit told delegates to SARM’s mid-term convention back in November.  It’s a long fight that we’ve had to deal with and we finally got what we wanted.” 

… Marit said the change is the result of a 10-year battle waged by Saskatchewan RMs. “We were the leading advocate across Canada on this issue and we got it,” he said. He said it means streams that only run during the spring season no longer come under the Act. And there’s “one less bureaucracy that we have to go through for approvals on either bridge or culvert replacements.”

Here is Mr. Marit’s testimony to the transport committee last fall.

(Mr. Marit is now perhaps better known as the dissenting commissioner in the dispute over the new Saskatchewan riding boundaries.)